Friday, September 29, 2006

LET'S START ASKING

At 81 years young, O.D. Ramey stays busy studying the Bible with others. It was about a year and a half ago that Faye, his wife of 52 years, passed away. Since then, the love he has for his wife has not lessened as he thinks about her every day. It was after Faye's death that he addressed the congregation where he has served for so many years as treasurer and before that, I believe, as an Elder. He started his speech saying that what he was about to say was a confession. He said he had as of late been looking in the mirror and decided he didn't like some things about himself. He told me that forty years ago he was living his faith and sharing it with others, and encouraging people, and having them into his home, and he was asking them to study the Bible. But forty years of life, of business, and the world, had taken some of this away. To try to understand what he was saying, I asked him if he could relate to what John said to the church in Revelation where they had left their first love and needed to do the deeds that they did in the beginning? He said, that's right. It wasn't that he had really left God, but the love and zeal for souls had diminished as he had let a little too much of the world into his life.

I was interested to hear more from him, so I asked him to tell me about his studies and what things are important to him. I have to say that at the age of 80 or 81, his thoughts and his voice are as lucid as any man's I have heard. In what he answered there was the Christian quality of conviction mingled with humility that captivated me and caused me to think about my own life.

Two things he said caught my attention so that I wanted to hear more. One had to do with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24). He believed that he had not been exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit. And if you are familiar with Galatians 5, then you know that the "deeds of the flesh" are there to quickly fill the void. This is what O.D. did not like about himself. The other had to do with asking: asking people to study, asking people where they go to church, asking people about their lives and about God, and generally getting involved with people.

On the first, his attention had been drawn to the Scripture which tells of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc). Our world, he said, is in turmoil and Christians need to live differently. There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. This is kind of important when you live in a time when people would love a reason to hate you. If you think about it, what the Brother was pointing out is profoundly true. The world needs to see people living a Christian life that cannot be impugned, that is distinct from a world that is more and more characterized by the deeds of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). However, O.D. confessed that as he looked in the mirror, he saw enough of the world that he didn't like what he was seeing. He made a decision before God that this would change.

On the second point, he decided that he needed to be doing more asking. People can't say yes or no unless we ask for a Bible study. We need to ask people about their soul. And it's only in Bible study that true conversion occurs because only the Word has the power to save.
"Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls." - Jas. 1:21
Somewhere in life, O.D. had let up and lost the intensity of asking people to study the Bible and follow Jesus. Brother, O.D. feels that many Christians have stopped asking. We need to start using every opportunity to ask people to study and become Christians.

Studying the Bible is keeping our Brother busy. Since his confession he is studying the Bible more and he has baptized a number of people who he continues to teach. I imagine the church he attends is enjoying a greater sense of purpose and joy, at least in part, because the fruit of the Spirit is in him. By his faith in the truth of Jesus Christ, others see and hear the truth in and through his life. The power of such a man's faith draws people to him, so that he can point them to Christ.

Brother, O.D.'s final thought was related to the fruit of the Spirit discussion by Paul in Galatians 5. In that chapter, Paul concludes "if we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." It becomes obvious when someone has made the decision to walk according to the Spirit because he becomes less and less like the world. It is compelling when we permit the Spirit to bear fruit in us. I think we can imitate what we are seeing in Brother, O.D. Ramey. God bless him.

Here are some things we can imitate:
1. LOOK: Take a look in the mirror to see if Christ or the world is in us. The fruit of the Spirit is a powerful testimony of our faith in Jesus Christ.
2. ASK: Look for chances to ask people to worship, to study the Bible, to have dinner, to come to a Christian fellowship.
3. FAITH AND HUMILITY: Believe God's word and carry it to others with a humble heart.

- Discipler

1 comment:

  1. Very encouraging post. It is very easy to leave our first love. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

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